Friday, October 17, 2014

Giving Tree

I recently heard about a kids book called 'The Giving Tree'.  This is the Wikipidea entry.

Wiki describes the plot
The book follows the life of a female [apple] tree and a boy who are able to communicate with each other; the tree addresses the human as "Boy" his entire life. In his childhood, the boy enjoys playing with the tree, climbing her trunk, swinging from her branches, and eating her apples. However, as time passes he starts to make requests of the tree.
After entering adolescence, the boy wants money; the tree suggests that he pick and sell her apples,he does and sells them. After reaching adulthood, the boy wants a house; the tree suggests he cut her branches to build a house, which he does. After reaching middle age, the boy wants a boat; the tree suggests he cut her trunk to make a boat, which he does, leaving only a stump.
In the final pages, the boy (now a shriveled old man) wants only "a quiet place to sit and rest," which the stump provides. The story ends with the sentence "And the tree was happy."
The story can be interpreted many ways.  It can be interpreted simply as good or bad.  It can be interpreted as a metaphor for many things I think.

The story is simple in a way.  It reminds me that it's my decision to interpret this however I choose.  The story reminds me more generally that the way I see things is in my control.  

It's easy for me to see this as story between a parent and a child.  I think of Yusuf and Nooriya and how I get to be with them everyday.  I'm not in a hurry to skip forward, but I'm sure the story ends with me being matter what.  I plan to come back for this reminder over the years when it might not be so clear.

This post happens to coincide closely with Nooriya's birthday.  Five!  I remember when it was JUST four.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Hurry up and slow down

Today I had an especially busy morning and I let myself get caught up in the busyness.  I rushed from here to there and back many times both physically and mentally.  It was exhausting, but I had some time planned to slow down and relax.  It's Friday and I had my class to relax just after lunch.

My morning continued to be busy and of course bled into lunch.  I had just enough time to shovel from food into my face so I could get down to relaxing.  I just needed to hurry up and eat.

It was mid-way through my lunch that I realized how ridiculous this was.  I was kind of stressing out about my relaxing time.  I still couldn't snap out of it, but at least I was self-aware.  I hope I can come back to this memory and snap out of it when I need to in the future.

I was doing today in a very small way what I don't ever want to do...I was just trying to get to [Fill in the blank].  I don't want to miss what's happening now because I'm waiting to get past some milestone or whatever.

I did make it to class on time:P.  The class wasn't as good as it would have been if I'd been a little more mellow to start with.  You get what you give:P

Friday, September 19, 2014

One more hour

The other day Yusuf asked me why there aren't 25 hours in a day.  I explained some stuff about the sun rising and the earth spinning.  I'm sure it wasn't very satisfying to hear.  I wasn't very satisfied explaining.

His question was less about science and more him wondering why he couldn't stay up past bedtime and do more fun stuff.  This has stayed with me for a couple days.

And last night I was about an hour late getting home.  It was due to a combination of meetings and traffic.  I got home later than usual and I couldn't participate like normal.  The kids had already eaten and were already winding down from their day.  I felt robbed.  I felt like my night was stolen.

I thought about Yusuf's question again and I asked myself another one.  Why aren't there 23 hours in a day?  It would suck if the day was shorter.  I have 24 hours a day to spend however.  I'll be home on time tonight!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Meditation class

Work offers a meditation class.  It's more of a close-your-eyes-and-relax class.  I was going for a few months and then I took the summer off.  I re-joined the class and the first class was great.  I felt as if I hadn't truly relaxed for a while afterwards.

The class is pretty simple.  Sit, close your eyes, and breathe deeply.  There is an "instructor".  He basically just repeats, "be aware of..." over and over.  It sounds silly as I write about it, but it's actually a really fantastic half hour every week.

The class is relaxing because it is about being aware of right now.  I can't help but think about the all the good things right now.  I shouldn't need a class or an 'instructor' for that:P

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Every Ramadan without fail several people say to me some variation of, 'Fasting is so hard.  I could never...aren't you hungry?'  My usual response is something along the lines of, 'it's really not so much about food' or 'the not eating part really isn't that hard'.

Each year I try to focus on something during Ramadan.  One or two things that I want to improve or at least be more aware of.  In past years, this has been mostly mental.  This year my focus is mostly physical; my focus is food.  So much of what the things I listen to are about how to balance deen and dunya.  Food is both.

I tell people every year that Ramadan is not really about food, but this year it's a big part of it for me.

I waste a lot of food.  I want to waste less.  Every meal that I don't finish my food, I waste it.  The wastefulness is pervasive and affects so many aspects of life.  In me, wastefulness breeds an undeserved attitude of entitlement and privilege.  I want every time I eat to be a reminder that I have so much.  Rather, I have just the right amount; the amount I am supposed to have.  No more.  No less.  It's up to me to take the right amount.

Really, I'm trying to be mindful of food.  This hopefully translates into being mindful about other things.  Be mindful year round Taher.

I believe that I'll get what is coming to me.  No more, no less.  It's up to me to be happy with whatever that is.  Taher, let every time you eat be a reminder.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Acceptable Costs

I've trained myself to think in economic terms about many things.  At work, I almost reflexively think about things in terms of their utility and the acceptable costs.  Basically, I look at most things in terms trying to make them better.

At work...

But I want to put this thinking into more of my life.  At work I've come to realize that perfect is the enemy of better.  I don't spend too much time trying to get something just right and have that stand in the way of things getting better.  It's natural for me to use this "economic" thinking at work, but for some reason this kind of approach doesn't kick in automatically when it's not work.

I have what I expect to be a stressful day coming up.  There are lots of things to keep track of, lists and lists:P  I've had many stressful days before and hopefully many still to come.  I'm already anticipating being a bit stressed out.  I'm trying to remember that's ok.  I want to be stressed out a little less than last time I had a stressful day.  As long as I'm better than the last time, that's a victory.

I'll come back in a couple days and read this in the morning.  Hopefully, I'll come back for this reminder the next stressful day after that...

The goal for today isn't perfection; it's better than yesterday.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

starless sky

I heard a physicist talk about the universe expanding.  It was a pretty cool and a little bit geeky, but still accessible to me.  It was fascinating.  I read more about the work that is the basis for the talk.  A couple guys won a nobel prize a couple years ago for showing that universe is not only getting bigger, but that things the universe is accelerating away from itself.

The force moving stars apart is stronger than the gravity holding them close.  This means that eventually that stars will be moving away from us so fast that they will be going the speed of light (or faster even?).  If stars in the sky are going away from us at the speed of light then their light will never reach us.  The sky will eventually just be dark!  This might not be news, but I read it with gravitas.

It's pretty amazing to be here NOW.  There are countless cliches about living right now and in the moment.  They're sometimes inspirational and often overused and ineffective.  I read about this discovery and found it pretty inspirational.  One day the world will be different.  One day we actually won't be able to see stars in the sky.  I'm glad that's not today.  Things are pretty good today.